We typically make our carnitas once a month or so. And, although the eating of the carnitas (tacos, fajitas, tex-mexey stuff) is quite popular, the prepping of them is not. While the use of the food processor helps greatly in mincing the jalapeno into many mini bite-sized pieces rather than many larger ones, it is the deseeding and the mere handling of these scovillian packages of mouth-granting pain (and eye and skin and nose and anywhere else where there is skin sensitivity) that causes near mutinous rebellion. (They also complain about onion prepping as well. Fortunately, they are still willing to cut zucchini, broccoli and egg plant.)
The techniques for cleaning the jalapenos have varied, but not by much. My personal technique and the technique I was prepared to use prior to the ambitious volunteer arising from the household of homework-focused young ladies was simply, “cutting off the ends; cutting them in half longwise; and using a spoon to scrape out the seeds”. Most of the techniques previously tested in our house were this technique or variants of it.
Our Chinese student (AKA The Volunteer) was not a newbie to the test of the jalapeno. (As the Chinese have some sort of torture which likely involves bamboo and being tickled by a panda, a person from Mexico may have a torture involving jalapeno [or hotter] peppers and being licked by a lizard.) She had not left her first contact with jalapenos unscarred. She was having to use some acupuncture and hypnosis strategies prior to again approaching the jalapeno task. Despite her initial reluctance, she committed herself to cleaning all of the 15-20 jalapenos she encountered on this visit. Her technique was largely the one I used with the exception of the plastic sandwich bag worn over her hand. As she worked her way through her pile of peppers, (Did Peter Piper pick a pile of pepper or was it a peck?) the pepper juices were seeping into her protective bag. To limit the seeping, she installed a paper towel to try to minimize the jalapeno/skin contact.
As the carnitas cooked all night and we awoke to our Friday morning routine, I did not hear any complaints from our “volunteer” For that, I was grateful. She didn’t complain about the odd skin tingling that follows soaking hands in jalapeno juices. She didn’t mention her eyes hurting from the introduction of juice into them. (Although the juice could get into the eyes by holding a pepper over your eye and squeezing, touching the eyes with tingling jalapeno hands [Odd “jalapeno hands” uses alliteration when it is two totally different letters of the alphabet.] is the most likely source of the pain.)
I love the interaction with our teenagers. Whether they are my bio-daughters or my exchange-daughters, they keep me guessing on how to relate to them. They can be moody; they can be curious, and they can sit back and stare in complete wonder why an adult is not acting how they believe an adult should act. I am good with all of that! It is my hope (and prayer) each one of them can keep their sense of wonder and ability to be slightly inappropriate a couple hours a week!